Last summer, The Patio Group took the reins at Mission Beach's Saska's Steak & Seafood, embarking on a refresh of the iconic restaurant that includes a new seafood counter and more updates to come. This summer, the hospitality collective plans to launch another eatery in the coastal community that will slot into a 600-square-foot space across from Saska's on Mission Boulevard.
Chef Antonio Friscia, whose full-service restaurant consulting group, Legal Restaurants, was brought in to re-conceptualize and help steer Fireside by The Patio in Liberty Station, is also spearheading this project, called Bao Beach.
Among the greatest hits on Friscia's acclaimed resume is Gaijin Noodle + Sake House, which shuttered in 2013 but is still remembered fondly for its menu of yakitori and 'bao baos' — riffs on Chinese steamed buns sandwiches filled with everything from carnitas to chicken karaage (fried chicken). Chef Fern Tran, who worked with Friscia at Gaijin, has been grilling up yakitori anew at Fireside, and will bring back the bao bao to Bao Beach, where variations on the steamed buns will be the centerpiece of a menu that also features poke bowls and Korean rice rolls known as kimbap. Calling the bao bao an 'Asian taco', Friscia says he sees scalability in the casual concept. The Legal Restaurants team told Eater that the space will have a light, fun and beachy feel, and may also serve beer and wine.